Wagon Wheel Bridge Damaged by Fire

West entrance to the bridge. Photo taken during the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend.

Fire damages east approach span. Investigation ongoing.

BOONE, IOWA- Law enforement authorities are investigating a possible arson, which occurred on the Wagon Wheel Bridge most recently. According to reports from multiple sources, the fire was reported by Union Pacific Railroad on Sunday night at 11:00pm at the eastern end of the bridge. While the fire was brought under control and no damage was done to the multiple span truss bridge, the eastern approach spans were charred, prompting county officials to remove the spans. The bridge has since been closed off to pedestrians and cyclists with its future in limbo. Any information pertaining to possible arson should be directed to law enforcement officials in Boone as soon as possible.

The Wagon Wheel Bridge, built in 1910 by the Iowa Bridge Company in Des Moines, has seen its best and worst times, the latter occurring within the past eight years. Damage was sustained by high water in 2008 when sections of the eastern approach spans were washed away during the worst flooding since 1993.  Attempts were made to pass a referendum in 2010, calling for a new structure to be built in place of the vintage structure, only to fall on deaf ears by a vast majority. Two floods later, the structure had been still been standing in tact with new decking added to the entire 710 foot bridge. Even an idea of having a memorial at the bridge site, dedicated to Kathlynn Shepard was brought up in 2013. This was in addition to having two bills passed to make kidnapping a felony and increase the age of the vicitims of such crimes to 15 years of age (instead of 12). More on the efforts can be seen through Kathlynn’s Hope facebook site.  Homage was paid to the bridge through the Historic Bridge Weekend that same year, where 20 people from all over the US attended the event, with Pam Schwartz of the Boone County Historic Society providing the guided tour of that and other bridges- many in connection with the famous Kate Shelley story (click here for details).

With the eastern approach spans removed, attempts are being made to restore the bridge to its original glory. This includes providing new decking that will not be vulnerable to fires. But also the need for repairing the truss parts and stabilizing the cylinder piers are there. All of this is part of the plan to use the bridge as a centerpiece of a bike trail to connect Boone and Odgen with a possibility to connect with the trails in Des Moines. Already, a facebook page has been launched with over 1440 likes on there. The main goal is to raise enough funds to realize the project. Repairs are estimated to be betwene $700,000 and $1m. But the race against time is underway. While the bridge is fenced off to all traffic with the eastern approach spans are removed, consideration is being taken to remove the entire structure for safety reasons. This is being met with solid opposition from locals, the state and other members favoring the preservation of the bridge becaus of its connection with the city’s history. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1998 and any plans to alter, replace, or remove the bridge will require approval and survey, which could take time and money to take. With the love towards the bridge being as high as it was when the referendum failed in 2010, many paths to Rome will be built to ensure that the historic bridge will be saved from becoming scrap metal, even if it means spending more to rehabilitate the structure and make it part of the city’s history and bike trail network. It is more of the question of the availability of resources and effort to undertake this mission. If new decking was added after 2010 with no problems, and looking at the success with Sutliff Bridge, another multiple span truss bridge, people will more likely look at ways to make this project bear fruit.

The Bridgehunter’s Chroncles will keep you posted on the latest on the Wagon Wheel Bridge. Please click on the highlighted links to take a look at the stories written about this bridge and other items. Join the group saving the bridge on facebook and get in touch with them if you are willing to provide some ideas and help to restoring the bridge.

 

Oblique view of the longest span. Photo taken in 2010
View of the east approach. This is where the fire took place recently. The photo had been taken in 2013.

bhc new logo newsflyer

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles Now a Website!

Bettendorf Twin Suspension Bridges spanning the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Specifically, between Moline and Bettendorf. Photo taken in Dec. 2014
Bettendorf Twin Suspension Bridges spanning the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Specifically, between Moline and Bettendorf. Photo taken in Dec. 2014

Confessions of a writer: Sometimes being away from something you do helps you think of something bigger and better. The past couple months have witnessed not many postings direct from the Chronicles, and for a good reason- the online column is growing up. Once considered a blog that has attracted many readers on facebook, twitter and through direct subscriptions, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles now has its own website, powered by WordPress.

To access the website, please click on the picture below:

BoF

Disregarding the new photos on the website, including the pages, the format of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles remains the same as it focuses on historic bridges, ways to preserve them and places to visit where they are plentiful in number. There are a couple differences that are key to telling the new website apart from the blog.

 

  1. The website version will focus more in detail on some of the larger aspects of historic bridges. This includes articles pertaining to historic bridge preservation practices, tour guides of regions with a high number of historic bridges, information on bridge preservation projects, interviews with experts, etc.

 

Some of the tour guides produced in the blog version will be reproduced in the website version thanks to the newest feature: Google Maps, which will help you find the historic bridge much   easier than using an ordinary map, let alone taking some guesses as to where they are located.

 

Since it also has a polling feature, the website version will utilize this for questions for the forum, as well as for the upcoming 2015 Ammann Awards. This way, people can easily be directed   to  the polls from the article.

 

  1. The blog version will remain as is, except its role will focus mainly on Newsflyers, updates on historic bridge projects, tributes to historic bridge greats, questions for the forum that do NOT require the use of the polls, announcements of special events pertaining to historic bridges, photography, conferences, etc., and anything of importance that only requires up to a page to write. For articles to be posted in the website, an abstract of them will be featured with a link directing you to the article on the website.   These you will find through AreaVoices, an online community that is part of the InForum family. 

 

So in short, if you want to know which of the two Bridgehunter’s Chronicles types you should subscribe to, the answer is simple: subscribe to BOTH versions to get the best coverage. However, all articles from the two versions will continue to be posted in the Chronicles’ facebook pages as well as twitter. To play it safe and follow the updates of bridges from various sources posted, subscribe to the Chronicles on both facebook and twitter.  A third social network page, like tumblr or Reddit for example is being considered, and once that is launched, you will be informed here on the Chronicles.

Even though the Chronicles has eliminated the Guest Writer page for the website and will do so for the blog version as some clean-up will be needed, we are still looking for featured writers to submit articles on historic bridges and other themes associated with them. If you have an article you wish to have posted for the readers to see, please contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com, or use the contact form in the About the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles page. You can also post the inquiry on the Chroncles’ facebook pages.

Last note before going to a rather bitter sweet story involving one particular historic bridge, the Chronicles’ facebook page features two different pages: the main page and the group page. The group page will remain as is, providing information on historic bridges in the US with a platform where you can provide questions for others to discuss. If you want to join, please ask the administrator, and you will be welcomed with open arms.  The main page is where you can read up on all the articles on historic bridges from the Chronicles as well as other online sources. There you can Like to follow for more coverage. The goal is to reach 500 Likes by the end of this year. Given the number accrued so far, that goal is realistic, esp. if word goes around from readers like you.

The Chronicles welcomes any comments and suggestions pertaining to the website. If you would like to see some changes, please let the author know.

Now without further ado, let’s go to a story about one bridge that had been closed for many years, but now has a happy ending. Hint, this bridge was the first written for the blog version, when it was launched five years ago. Any guesses of what the name of this bridge is, let alone where it is located?

Let’s find out, shall we?  🙂

 

bhc new logo jpeg

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles Now a Website!

Bettendorf Twin Suspension Bridges spanning the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Specifically, between Moline and Bettendorf. Photo taken in Dec. 2014
Bettendorf Twin Suspension Bridges spanning the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Specifically, between Moline and Bettendorf. Photo taken in Dec. 2014

Confessions of a writer: Sometimes being away from something you do helps you think of something bigger and better. The past couple months have witnessed not many postings direct from the Chronicles, and for a good reason- the online column is growing up. Once considered a blog that has attracted many readers on facebook, twitter and through direct subscriptions, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles now has its own website, powered by WordPress.

 

Disregarding the new photos on the website, including the pages, the format of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles remains the same as it focuses on historic bridges, ways to preserve them and places to visit where they are plentiful in number. There are a couple differences that are key to telling the new website apart from the blog.

 

  1. The website version will focus more in detail on some of the larger aspects of historic bridges. This includes articles pertaining to historic bridge preservation practices, tour guides of regions with a high number of historic bridges, information on bridge preservation projects, interviews with experts, etc.

 

Some of the tour guides produced in the blog version will be reproduced in the website version thanks to the newest feature: Google Maps, which will help you find the historic bridge much              easier than using an ordinary map, let alone taking some guesses as to where they are located.

 

Since it also has a polling feature, the website version will utilize this for questions for the forum, as well as for the upcoming 2015 Ammann Awards. This way, people can easily be directed              to  the polls from the article.

 

  1. The blog version will remain as is, except its role will focus mainly on Newsflyers, updates on historic bridge projects, tributes to historic bridge greats, questions for the forum that do NOT require the use of the polls, announcements of special events pertaining to historic bridges, photography, conferences, etc., and anything of importance that only requires up to a page to write. For articles to be posted in the website, an abstract of them will be featured with a link directing you to the article on the website.

 

So in short, if you want to know which of the two Bridgehunter’s Chronicles types you should subscribe to, the answer is simple: subscribe to BOTH versions to get the best coverage. However, all articles from the two versions will continue to be posted in the Chronicles’ facebook pages as well as twitter. To play it safe and follow the updates of bridges from various sources posted, subscribe to the Chronicles on both facebook and twitter.  A third social network page, like tumblr or Reddit for example is being considered, and once that is launched, you will be informed here on the Chronicles.

Even though the Chronicles has eliminated the Guest Writer page for the website and will do so for the blog version as some clean-up will be needed, we are still looking for featured writers to submit articles on historic bridges and other themes associated with them. If you have an article you wish to have posted for the readers to see, please contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com, or use the contact form in the About the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles page. You can also post the inquiry on the Chroncles’ facebook pages.

Last note before going to a rather bitter sweet story involving one particular historic bridge, the Chronicles’ facebook page features two different pages: the main page and the group page. The group page will remain as is, providing information on historic bridges in the US with a platform where you can provide questions for others to discuss. If you want to join, please ask the administrator, and you will be welcomed with open arms.  The main page is where you can read up on all the articles on historic bridges from the Chronicles as well as other online sources. There you can Like to follow for more coverage. The goal is to reach 500 Likes by the end of this year. Given the number accrued so far, that goal is realistic, esp. if word goes around from readers like you.

The Chronicles welcomes any comments and suggestions pertaining to the website. If you would like to see some changes, please let the author know.

Now without further ado, let’s go to a story about one bridge that had been closed for many years, but now has a happy ending. Hint, this bridge was the first written for the blog version, when it was launched five years ago. Any guesses of what the name of this bridge is, let alone where it is located?

Let’s find out, shall we?  🙂

 

bhc new logo jpeg

Flensburg-Bridgehunter Merchandise on Sale through Café Press

 

Rosedale Bridge. Photo taken in September 2010

If you are looking for the best gift for your loved one and are not sure what to get them, or know someone who loves bridges, photography, landscapes or the like, or you want to surprise them with something you don’t find on the shelves of any supermarket, then perhaps you can try the Flensburg-Bridgehunter Online Shop. Powered by Café Press, this year’s items include new calendars from the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, featuring the historic truss bridges of Iowa as well as the bridges of Minnesota, which are selling like hotcakes even as this goes to the press. In addition, merchandise carrying the Chronicle’ new logo are also for sale, including wall clocks and coffee cups. Some of them feature historic bridges that are the focus of preservation efforts.  The Flensburg Files has a second installment of the Night Travel series for 2015, in addition to part I that was produced in 2012 but is available in the 2015 version. This in addition to a new set of photos and journals to keep track of your travels and thoughts.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the products provided by the Chronicles and the Files, click here. This will take you directly to the store. Hope you find what you are looking for and thank you for shopping.

Newsflyer: 9 December, 2013

Clark’s Mill Bridge in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken in August 2010

Historic Bridges coming down in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Green Bridge meeting on December 16th, Bridgehunter and Flensburg Calendars for sale

Jack Kerouac, one of the well-known “road-hog” American writers of the post World War II era, crossed this bridge many times as a child and used it in his novel Dr. Sax. Now he’s wishing he was out of his grave to curse the people of his hometown Lowell, Massachusetts for destroying the bridge that used to be part of his childhood. The University Avenue Bridge, spanning the Merrimack River, a Pratt deck truss bridge that was built in 1895, was slated for demolition once the Schell Memorial Bridge was built. While a preservation group stood up to the government to hinder this progress, it recently stepped aside, thus giving the green light for demolition to commence in 2014. However, this bridge is not the only one on the chopping block, as the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is presenting its Newsflyer to focus on the bridges that were once a struggle to preserve it, but became bait for the bulldozers as the groups backed off. Yet this is not all, for some glimmer of hope for one Iowa bridge can be seen through the darkness and if you want a great Christmas gift for your loved ones, …

Well, here we go, without ado:

Schell Bridge Coming Down: Touted as the longest single-span truss bridge in Massachusetts and one of the longest Pennsylvania truss bridges in the country, this 1903 Connecticut River crossing was built by Edward Shaw and had been abandoned for over two decades. A preservation group tried to stop plans to demolish the bridge, yet they recently agreed to tear down and rebuild the bridge, using the metal from the old span and keeping the design. Reason: deterioration of the bridge decking although the steel superstructure was in normal shape. Apart from Kerouac’s Bridge in Lowell and Fitch’s Bridge in Middlesex County, this bridge is the third one this year where a preservation group once fought for preservation but retracted because of government pressure. The Schell Bridge is located in Franklin County, northwest of Northfield. More info can be found here.

Mercer County to wipe out eight historic bridges: Once touted as one of the most populous counties in western Pennsylvania, this county is on the road to becoming the county to have one of the least number historic bridges, especially after 2016. Some of the bridges that are on the chopping block include the following:

Clark’s Mill Bridge– Located over the Little Shenango River, this 1885 Penn Bridge Company bridge is one of the shortest Pratt through truss bridges in the county, with a span of only 82 feet. Unfortunately it is one of the most corroded bridges in the county, which explains the reason why the county wants to replace it beginning in 2014. Whether it is on a new alignment or at its original location remains unclear. The one thing that is clear is that the bridge’s days are numbered.

Sharpsville Bridge– Located over the Shenango River in northeast of Sharpsville, this bridge features two crossings with an 1897 Penn Bridge Company Parker through truss serving oneway traffic and a stringer replacement of 1946 serving another lane. Both have been closed since 2010 and are slated for replacement.

Carlton Bridge– Spanning French Creek at New Lebanon Road, this two-span iron through truss bridge features unique portal bracings and finials that are typical of the Columbia Bridge and Iron Works Company, which built this structure in 1892. While one of the locals upon my visit in 2010 claimed that the bridge would remain in its place, his assumptions are about to be wrong. Closed since 2011, the county plans to tear down and replace this bridge beginning next year, although the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A travesty? Yes, but typical of PennDOT and its behavior towards historic bridges.

Cochranton Bridge– Spanning French Creek outside Cochranton and carrying Hwy. 173, this two-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections was built in 1930 and has been carrying traffic with little incident ever since. Yet, PennDOT is not satisfied with the bridge’s restricted height clearance and width limits and therefore is planning its replacement span, which will take its place in 2015. This will cause headaches for a detour will be many miles long, adding more money wasted in gas and taxes to the proposed $7 million project.

Green Bridge in Des Moines the subject of important meeting:  Already the campaign to save the three-span Pratt through truss bridge spanning the Raccoon River has reached new levels with over 860 signatures and over 1050 likes on its facebook page, with more needed. 5000 bikers have been informed and have thrown their support behind the 1898 structure, together with some big-time businesses in Des Moines. One of the climatic events will be the meeting on December 16th at Des Moines City Hall. There, the City Park Board will present their proposals on the bridge to the City Council, yet the meeting will be open to the public. If you are interested in voicing your opinion about the bridge, you are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting. Like to follow the developments involving the bridge, and do not forget to sign the petition if you have not done so yet. A link to the petition can be found here.

Calendars and other Items for Sale: Looking for a gift for your friends and/or loved ones? For the second year in a row, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column The Flensburg Files is selling calendars and other items. This includes the 2014 calendars featuring the historic bridges of Iowa and Germany. If you are interested in purchasing one, please click here to order. More information can also be found in the Bridgehunter Chronicles Shop page. Both are powered by Cafe Press.

Flensburg and Bridgehunter going separate ways

 

 

 

 

As musician SEAL would sing it: “The Change is gonna come!”  It’s time to unweave the weave, as many engineers in Minnesota were saying when they indeed untangled the interchange I-35W and Hwy. 62 Crosstown in Minneapolis a couple years ago, and many German engineers are thinking the same idea with the A115-A100 interchange in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Both the Flensburg Files and the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles are going separate ways and receiving a new makeover to make it more attractive for people to follow.

It starts off with the separate Twitter accounts, for both columns were running together on one account for a year. While the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep its old account under the new name BH Chronicles, the Flensburg Files has received a new account, where everything dealing with German-American culture and issues (including articles in German) and guest posting will go there in addition to the posts written by the columnist himself.  The Chronicles will keep receiving posts from the columnist on historic bridges as well as those from preservationists and pontists. All current followers are asked to please take this change to account. You can access Twitter through their respective apps.

 

Both Flensburg and Bridgehunter will also receive new logos which will slowly but surely appear in the column in the near future. The logos are below:

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, both columns will be receiving new apps in the future, many of which are primarily used for education purposes but are worth using for the columns. Already each one has a new Pininterest account which can be accessed by clicking here.  Flensburg will receive most of its pics through that app, whereas the Bridgehunter will maintain both its Pininterest and flickr accounts. As the column received many app toys to play with, you will be informed of the new apps that will be available through the respective columns.

 

And while the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will continue its series on best historic bridge practice, mystery bridges, and the historic bridge preservation glossary (among other things), the Flensburg Files, after a long hiatus due to many commitments, will have a set of series to work with. Apart from continuing to write on tourism-related topics, such as places to visit in Germany and German-named towns in the US, we will revisit the topic on soccer and its problems while at the same time, open up the political season as the Germans will elect a new chancellor in 2013 and the Files will focus on the political parties involved in the elections, the issues that Germany has and the attitudes of the public towards politics and other topics.  In addition with that, the Files will open a new series called “From the Classroom” where the columnist, with many years of teaching experience, will go behind the scenes and focus on English and life in academia. An introduction to the series will start the series off.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the upcoming article that will be coming, through the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and the Flensburg Files. 🙂

Please note: both Bridgehunter and Flensburg will still be maintaining their facebook sites, so there is no need to panic. You can still like and follow on facebook. 🙂

Flensburg-Bridgehunter Online Shop now open

Are you looking for that ideal gift for your friend or loved one and still don’t know what to get him/her? Perhaps that person is a bridge enthusiast or would like something with scenery and/or quotes to start off each day. Or is that person lacking some office materials to start the day?
Just in time for the holiday season, the Flensburg-Bridgehunter Online shop has opened its doors for you to stop in and find that perfect gift for you. Inspired by the two online columns, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and the Flensburg Files, the Online shop has everything you need to fulfill your needs, whether it is a calendar showcasing the bridges in the US, Europe and elsewhere, postcards with various themes, mousepads with various photos, notepads, and the like. All photos are courtesy of the author, Jason D. Smith.  To view the shop, please click on the link below:

http://www.cafepress.com/flensburgbridgehunteronlineshop

Here are the featured products you will see this holiday season at the shop:


2013 Calendar on Iowa’s Truss Bridges:  This calendar showcases the finest vintage truss bridges serving the Hawkeye State with information on the location, bridge type and other facts for each of the bridges featured. Proceeds will go towards the book project on Iowa’s historic truss bridges, which started earlier this year and is currently in full gear.

 


2013 Calendar on the Bridges of Germany:  This calendar features a wide array of bridges that are unique for the Bundesrepublik, ranging from the Kramer House Bridge in Erfurt to the Balduin Bridge in Coblence (both part of UNESCO’s World Heritage), the Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin to the Bridge of Friendship in Flensburg, with facts and information for you to enjoy, let alone to use as an incentive to visit these places.

 


2013 Wall Calendar Rendsburg High Bridge: Available both in German and in English, the 2013 wall calendar features one of the finest technical treasures that is a must see, while visiting Germany: The Rendsburg High Bridge (German: Die Rendsburger Hochbruecke). Built in 1913 by Friedrich Voss and spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal (German: Nord-Ostsee Kanal), the bridge is one of the rarest in the world, for its main span features a cantilever truss span on top and a transporter span at the bottom. In addition, it has an elliptical approach span that soars above the city of Rendsburg with its concrete arch and steel trestles. Apart from the beautiful pic taken by the author, there are two other incentives for you to buy this product: the bridge will be 100 years old next year and is up for nomination to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Plus there are many other products for you to choose from. Please check out the site and if you see something you like, there are many ways to order.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the author at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.

Again, thank you for shopping the Flensburg-Bridgehunter Online Shop.